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I would like to propose a badge that rewards folk who have written question comments that have more upticks than answers have upvotes; e.g. see @HamZa in

java split regex - any combination of characters

My opening gambit is that you get the "Dignified" badge (Gold Level) if you have managed to do this, say, 25 times, and, say you have at least 5 helpful upticks. We can haggle over the exact numbers.

It's a dignified thing to do indeed: to answer a question with a succinct comment sacrificing the reputation that would have been gained had you answered it.

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25 is very low - gold badges are 'rare'. I think this should exist, but more as a bronze or maybe a silver with higher numbers :) – Jimbo Jun 28 '13 at 9:35
I was reading the question and was waiting for this It's a dignified thing to do indeed: to answer a question with a succinct comment sacrificing the reputation that would have been gained had you answered it. – Mr. Alien Jun 28 '13 at 9:35
Vote this comment to have the chance to receive the new badge! :-) – Ionică Bizău Jun 28 '13 at 9:40
@John at least 6 times ;-) Edit: now 7. – Bathsheba Jun 28 '13 at 9:41
At least 7 question downvotes is harsh: in what way did it not show any research effort / unclear / not useful?! Disagreement does not necessarily imply a bad question. Are we misusing question downvoting on this site? – Bathsheba Jun 28 '13 at 10:12
most of the time, downvotes in meta mean people disagree with your idea/proposal (see "Voting" under this FAQ). – Old Checkmark Jun 28 '13 at 10:14
I'm glad, in that case, that I was given 100 points to fritter away then ;-) – Bathsheba Jun 28 '13 at 10:15
When a question can be answered in a short comment, that is also a good indicator that the question is answerable by a Google query and/or a candidate for closure, likely as a duplicate. – Chris Jun 28 '13 at 16:18
up vote 17 down vote accepted

No, I don't think that is a good idea.

Take into account that badges are there to encourage certain behaviour. This badge would encourage you to write a comment rather than an answer.

We really want to encourage people to write a good answer instead!

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The question itself is kind of too basic, the answer would be use [\\s,-]+ with 2 lines of explanation. Is that a good answer ? I would rather close it, but most of the regex questions are like that. – HamZa Jun 28 '13 at 9:47
@HamZa: Closing the question should always be an option you consider. – Martijn Pieters Jun 28 '13 at 9:49
And the closing reason ? The OP has provided code, formatted nicely his question and seems to have done something. It's bothering me for a while those poor regex questions. I mean spend atmost a day learning the basics and we could have prevented maybe half of the questions. Also, it seems that I'm alone, trying to close the question, and then one high rep user comes by and posts an answer and gets ~5 ups. Regex tag is THE way to quickly gain reputation points. – HamZa Jun 28 '13 at 9:53
That's a good point Martijn; +1 and accept. – Bathsheba Jun 28 '13 at 10:11

I do it myself a lot, but writing comments in lieu of a properly fleshed out answer isn't exactly great for the site's ecosystem. The behaviour should not be encouraged further by having a badge for it.

Comments that answer the question...

  • ...are second class citizens and may get deleted

  • ...make it impossible for the OP to accept the best solution

  • ...are kinda unfair to the other answerers - how lame does it feel to repeat in an answer what some high-rep dignitary already said in a comment?

Also, as Jimbo points out, highly upvoted comments don't necessarily indicate high quality content: they may just be criticizing the OP's badly put, lazy, off-topic question.

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A lot of questions likely to have more upvotes on a comment rather than an answer are questions that may soon be closed because the author has not put enough effort into researching what they want (ie, it's a simple answer, like the one OP gave for a regex). – Jimbo Jun 28 '13 at 9:37
Good point, added – Pëkka Jun 28 '13 at 9:38

Comments are always comments, they can't be useful as a high quality answer. As a self experience OP is not reading the comments and trying to get the correct answer, even though the comment is useful.

For writing high quality answer, user can't write it in comment box, he has to write in answer box instead. Also as Pekka said OP can't accept the comment as answer.

This StackExchange community is build for getting high quality answer form user rather than writing the useful answer as comment.

Any new user who is referring this site to get help, he will search for accepted answer OR high upvoted answer rather than reading comments.

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If I understand you correctly, you want to award the badge based on comments that fulfills these requirement

  1. Answers the question
  2. More well-received (i.e. more up-votes) than the highest voted answer

Requirement #2 is relatively easy to check (I think).

Requirement #1 is more troublesome for the system. I mean, it's easy for us (humans, unicorns, doorknobs, and anime characters) to distinguish between

  • comments that is an answer to the question, and
  • comments that is a feedback to a question (request for clarification; statement that the issue is not reproducible, etc.)

but the system can't.

Let's say we have a feedback-type comment that has a higher upvote than the highest-voted answer, that's like comparing apples and oranges – then that's not a meaningful comparison, at least in my book.

And even in the case of meaningful comparison (i.e. comparing answer-type comment and answer), there is also the issue of encouraging "just do this" type of answer vs in-depth, detailed answers (as many has mentioned).


Unless we add new features to mark a comment as an answer or a feedback – more trouble than it's worth

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Doorknobs :D +1 just for that :P – Doorknob Jul 29 '13 at 1:55

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